medicalAn “atta boy” goes out to the Mesa Fire Department. The Arizona Republic’s April 21, 2013 edition ran a story written by Maria Polletta. This past August Mesa began a pilot project placing a physician’s assistant and a paramedic on a smaller response vehicle (called a Transitional Response Vehicle or TRV) equipped with nearly everything necessary to handle “low level” emergency medical calls. Tom Morris, a physician’s assistant says, “There’s not much I don’t have here that I wouldn’t have in a traditional (urgent care or ER) setting.”

This concept frees traditional fire vehicles to respond to more serious calls for service. It also offers an unanticipated benefit of greater partnership with police. This type of unit can determine if an arrestee needs medical treatment or can be cleared for custody of an officer at the scene of the incident. It saves the police department time, manpower and costs associated with taking suspect to a major medical facility for minor treatment or clearance.

Mesa Fire spokesperson, Forrest Smith, said, “It basically costs an average of 32 cents a mile to run a TRV, as opposed to $2.76” to run a traditional fire engine.  That cost per mile includes fuel, maintenance and labor, as miscellaneous costs.

truck 1This is an idea whose time has come. With cities facing rising costs to deliver service to their residents innovation that works and delivers cost savings is a “no-brainer.” I can’t begin to count the number of times I remarked to Glendale’s Fire Chief that there had to be a better way to respond to medical calls than using expensive 4 man fire trucks and ladders. Of course major equipment is needed to respond to a medical call such as a vehicle accident but for minor calls such as cuts and sprains the use of large trucks is a waste of money and manpower.

This Mesa pilot project is still under evaluation but cities in other states have expressed interest in and are learning about this project and Scottsdale is considering starting a similar program. It’s time cash strapped Glendale get on board the TRV.